I went to Crash for one reason and one reason only. The babes. We’re talking major Hollywood action here – Holly Hunter, Rosanna Arquette and a new actress named Deborah Kara Unger, an icy blond who, in fact, has the other two beat in the smoldering sexuality department.

Oh, yeah, sure it’s a David Cronenberg movie, he of The Brood, The Fly, Dead Ringers, and a whole bunch of other horror films. He’s probably the most literate guy in the movie biz, a truly thoughtful intellectual in a den of vipers. But you know those intellectuals. Behind that egghead facade there’s a raging pervert, so naturally Cronenberg (who’s also a car fanatic) would adapt J. G. Ballard’s quasi-distopian novel about a gang of auto eroticists.

And this is a sex film that is all sex. I mean it. There’s little in the way of back story, or even story story. It’s about a guy named James Ballard (James Spader). He directs commercials or something like that. He and his wife Catherine (Unger) play this little game – they fuck everything that moves and then tell each other about it. We are introduced at the start of the film to both of them in mid-fuck – with different people. Later, Ballard gets in a car wreck and, as a consequence, he hitches up with a bunch of people, led by Vaughn (Elias Koteas) who are into car sex. Not just fucking in cars, but getting turned on by wreckage, speed, blood and dismemberment. There’s no story here in the conventional sense. It’s an examination of a bunch of hedonists and there is no doubt in my mind that in some of the scenes these people are really fucking. Crash may be the defining movie of the `90s.

But the funny thing is, I go see the movie and in the lobby afterwards there’s a guy and a girl standing around and they don’t look too good. He’s got a cast on his arm and her face, beautiful and pale, is peppered with red welts and bruises. I’m standing next to them for a while and the guy turns to me and says, “Great movie, huh?” I agree. So we get to talking and it turns out that he’s more or less the real life equivalent of the Vaughn character. I immediately ask for an interview, vowing to maintain their anonymity. We met a couple of days later on a rare sunny afternoon in a quiet bar in downtown Portland. He’s in his early 30's, rugged and independently wealthy. She’s in her late 20's, a former model. Let’s call him Van and her April. Van was surprisingly talkative, while April was provocatively silent.

Exotic: So you two have really done some of the things shown in Crash ?
Van: Not some, all . We’re turned on by the mix of metal and flesh, of wounds and genitals. Our lives are given over to getting closer to that perfect, definitive auto orgasmic high. It may lead to our deaths.

Exotic: So which came first, your obsessions or the book by Ballard?
Van: The book. I read it in my punk days, and knew instantly that Crash was for me, about me.

Exotic: How did you go about getting into this world?
Van: I spent a lot of time around cars, looking for like-minded people. I take pictures. You’d be amazed at how a photographer is given this incredible permission by society to go anywhere, do anything, talk to anybody. That’s how I met April. We were both vultures at a crash out on Sunset Highway. I took her picture, she asked for a copy, and the rest is history, man.

Exotic: Was it easy to find people with your tastes?
Van: Easier than you think. Once you accept Crash as your Bible and Ballard as your Messiah, then you naturally gravitate toward people who give off that vibe. It’s amazing how many there are. Most of them live here.

Exotic: So you’re saying that Portland is the epicenter of auto eroticism?
Van: Yes, there’s quite a large community of car fetishists here. You think that all those car wrecks you read about in the Oregonian are accidents? Think about it. 82nd Avenue, all those car lots. The rain, driving us indoors, into our machines. The slippery roads, the curving tree-lined streets. Any auto eroticist who doesn’t move here is crazy. I even know a story or two about your own little Darklady over there at Exotic.

Exotic: How large is the community of auto eroticists?
Van: Oh, about 100 or so people.

Exotic: Wow! That many?
Van: Yes, and we’re expecting more once this movie gets wider circulation. We’re steeling ourselves for a rash of dilettantes. But no one plays as hard as me and April.

Exotic: What are some of the things you’ve done lately?
Van: April fools everyone. She looks calm, almost icy, but inside she is a raging sex animal who lives for orgasms; the more the better. Last weekend she seduced an emergency ward doctor, right on the operating table. He was trying to patch up her face after we had a little incident out near Oregon City. Me, well, I was in the west hills the other day. I come around this corner from the Arboretum. Yeah, I’m going a little too fast, but so fucking what? Anyway, I bang into this Mercedes backing out of a driveway. It’s not much, just a fender bender. Happens all the time. I get out, a little hot, a little turned on. I go up to the car, and there’s this rich, thin, bejeweled woman sitting there, and she’s, like, freaking out, thinking that her world is falling apart. She’s, like, quivering. I open the door, and she looks at me weird. I realize that she’s turned on too, but in a scared kind of a way. So slowly, calmly, I reach down and put my fingers up her skirt and into her cunt. It’s wet as hell. She looks like she’s gonna slap me, then her eyes flutter and she leans back and I bring her off. Then when I’m done with her I just up and go. Bashing into someone’s car is a great way to meet chicks. Later, after I told April, she was so turned on that we drove back early in the dark of night and fucked on the lady’s bashed up car. It was great.

Exotic: What are some more extreme things you’ve done?
Van: Once April and I fucked on the Banfield at two in the morning, with me driving and her on top. A couple of times I couldn’t even see where I was going. We’ve staged a few crashes out near the airport. That’s about the only place where you have the space and the solitude. Long roads. Places where people can sit. My personal goal is to recreate Robert Mitchum’s death at the end of Thunder Road , you know, when he drives into the power station. That’s a hard one, though. April likes to go into auto showrooms and tempt the sales guys, tearing up the seats a little, or stealing car lighters.

Exotic: How’d you get that cast on your arm?
Van: It’s a weird story. Of course. I know this chick, she’s like Rosanna Arquette in the movie, fucked up legs and all that. Big braces everywhere. One of my fantasies has been to sort of sneak into a real auto race while it’s going on and take a couple of turns around the track. So a couple of Sundays ago there was this race at Portland Speedway. My friend is game, so we drive out, and I use my photographer guise to get in, and I get around to the back and wait. When the race starts I let the action build. I’m driving an old Pontiac Tempest, see, so at first everyone thinks that I’m part of the scene. Then, I just shoot out. I get onto the track. We take about two turns and nobody really notices at first. My friend is stroking my dick and fingering herself as we zip around. Then I begin to see people sort of standing and looking at us. I figure it’s time to take off. I try to negotiate the exit off the track and fuck it up, smashing my side of the car into the wall. Broke my arm. My girl had to steer for a few miles, until we could pull off the road and she could take over. Never did come either, damn it.

Exotic: Where will this all end?
Van: Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it? We are going to keep going until we get that ultimate high. I don’t know what shape it will take. Maybe going off a cliff. Maybe smashing into a cop car or a Brinks truck. I don’t know. But we are exploring it. Every day we do something different.

Exotic: Aren’t you afraid that in talking to me you’ve blown your cover?
Van: Hey, let `em try and catch me.

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